I once asked a pastor of a mega-church noted for its illustrated Easter Sermons why he continued to dramatize Jesus being crucified on Friday when he knew He was crucified Thursday, and he said, “It’s easier to do than to go into the detail needed to present the truth.”
In the 6 presentations of the illustrated sermon that year about 24,000 people attended, so all 24,000 were taught medieval church error, which I thought sad. Here is how the error happened and the week in order:
Foundation for Easter week – Passover
In His death, burial, and resurrection Jesus fulfilled 3 spring feasts which foreshadowed His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection. They are: Unleavened Bread, Passover, and First fruits, first seen as Israel was about to leave Egypt and detailed in Exodus 12:1-19 and Leviticus 23:4-14.
Unleavened Bread uses yeast as a type of sin, so they were not to eat yeast for the 7 day feast, showing Jesus’ sinless life. They ate unleavened bread for 7 days, 7 representing completion, but on the last day of the feast, which was a Sabbath just for that feast, they ate lamb with their bread. Jesus lived a sinless life, and this sinless Bread from heaven, is consumed by believers as one act of eating both the sinless Bread and Passover Lamb for our sins.
Passover which was within the Feast of Unleavened Bread, refers to the practice of painting the doorway of their homes with the sacrificial lamb’s blood so when judgement came on Egypt, Israelites who had the blood on their homes would be ‘passed over’ and not hurt. Of course our ‘house’ is ourselves, the living homes of Christ within, who have the blood of the Lamb upon us. (I Corinthians 6:19)
First fruits was celebrated on “the day after the Sabbath” after Passover, and was when the priest would take a sheaf of the first harvest of barley and wave it to the Lord as a type of the greater harvest to come. Israel came out of the Sea after leaving Egypt on the morning of First fruits as a type of Jesus who was resurrected on First fruits in fulfillment of the Red Sea crossing.
Jesus’ Passover week
As stated in Exodus 12:3, on the 10th of the month the lamb would be brought into the house to be examined to see if it was worthy of being sacrificed, until it was killed “between the evenings” which was 3pm (15:00) on the 14th. Can you imagine bringing a little lamb into your home for 4 days, how you would get to know it, become attached to it – Jesus’ ministry was over 3 1/2 years during which He was examined in the house of Israel, and finally pronounced blameless by Pilate, the highest authority of the day.
The day of the sacrifice was called ‘the day of preparation’, as once the lamb was killed at 3pm it had to be prepared for eating at the evening meal which began at sundown. Remember the Jewish day begins at sundown because in creation God went from darkness to light for the first day, so for discussion purposes I’m going to use 6pm (18:00) as sundown and the start of the next day.
A VERY IMPORTANT POINT – Here is where we got Friday as crucifixion day
All 4 gospels say Jesus died on ‘the day of preparation’, when the Passover Lamb was killed at 3pm: “And that day was the day of preparation, and the Sabbath was about to start” and “And when evening was come, because it was the day of preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath.” (The sacred Sabbath that was the last day of the feast, not Saturday – Mt 27:62, Mk 15:42, Lk 23:54, John 19:14, 31, 42)
To Gentile Roman Catholic forefathers ignorant of the fact the Passover mandated a holy Sabbath starting the evening they ate the meal, they thought the Sabbath mentioned was Saturday! We’ve had ‘Good Friday’ ever since. They had no clue 2 Sabbaths are mentioned, for there was the ceremonial Sabbath followed by the Saturday Sabbath. Being a double Sabbath the women couldn’t attend to the tomb until Sunday.
Put it all together – Palm Sunday the 10th, starts examination time ‘in the house’
Not only was Jesus ‘examined’ for nearly 4 years in the house of Israel as a type of the 4 days the Passover Lamb was examined, but Mark was led to include a 4 day examination by the rulers. In Mark 11:1-11, in what we call Palm Sunday the 10th of Nisan, Jesus comes into the house for His time of examination.
The people lay palm branches before the colt, one never before ridden thus showing Jesus’ mastery over creation once again (wind/waves, food multiplied, water into wine) and His voluntary surrendering of His life as the Passover Lamb, they cry out ‘Hosanna; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord…”
This word ‘hosanna’ means ‘save us’, and the expression comes from Psalm 118 which was sung and read during Passover week (Mt 26:30), the whole passage says this:
“I will not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord has chastened me severely but He has not given me over to death…the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes. THIS is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it! SAVE NOW (hosanna) I beseech you O Lord, SAVE NOW O Lord (hosanna) and send us salvation! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord…Bind now the sacrifice to the altar. You are my God and I wll praise you; You are my God and I will exalt you. O give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 118: 17-29
That was Sunday, the 10th and verse 11 says He and the 12 left town and spent the night in Bethany.
Verse 12 says “And in the morning”, Monday the 11th, He commanded a fig tree to die that didn’t have fruit on it as it should have, as a type of Israel that week which should have received Him but did not. Then He went into the temple and ‘cleansed’ the temple of the money changers and those selling animals for sacrifice. Verse 19 says in the evening they left the city.
You can imagine Jesus’ emotions, knowing it is His examination time as the Passover Lamb, and there in the temple are the animals being sold for sacrifice in such a carnal display by people having no clue what is taking place. He forces them to leave, preparing the way for the True Sacrifice to be offered that week.
Mark 11: 20 says “In the morning” which is now Tuesday the 12th, which is the longest single day of examination. Mark spends the rest of chapter 11 and all of chapter 12 writing about authorities from each sect examining Him:
11:27: Chief priests, scribes, elders came to Him asking “By what authority do you do these things?”
12:13: “And they sent to him certain Pharisees and Herodians to catch Him in His words.”
12:18: “Then came to Him the Sadducees…”
12:28: “And one of the scribes…”
Finally the examination is complete, these unwilling accomplices to the Father’s plan to legally prove Jesus worthy of the sacrifice, comes to an end with Mark’s announcement in 12:34: “And no man after that dared ask him any question.” They cut off the examination time late Tuesday, for Mark 14:1 states:
“In two days time was the festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread…” meaning Thursday.
This agrees with all four gospels stating Jesus died on the day of preparation, Thursday the 14th, and that evening was a Sabbath (15th), followed by the Saturday (16th) Sabbath, followed by the Feast of First fruits on Sunday (17th), the Sunday morning Jesus arose as the first born from the dead.
On the cross Jesus said ‘It is finished’, which is a Greek word, “tetelestai”, first used by Greek and then Roman commanders overseeing a battlefield and pronouncing ‘It is finished’. The stating of ‘tetelestai’ by a general was more than an observation, it was also a pronouncement that the battle had been won and now they could turn their attention to the taking of the spoil – and that is what Jesus was saying as He died – the battle has been won, nothing left now but the taking of the spoil.
Next week – what happened in the lower parts of the earth, and the resurrection.
Until then, blessings,